I’ve just bought myself a brand new Macbook Air. I went for the 13″ model with 4GB RAM, 1.7Ghz i5 and 128GB SSD (or, as the guy in the shop so eloquently put it “the entry level model”!!!). Its the best thing to ever happen to me (with the notable exception of all the other things that should probably come above a laptop, like my family and my girlfriend – they’re definitely better – no question).
I was a bit hesitant to tell the truth. Its not every day I spend huge amounts of money on something and the little niggles set in as I made my way to the KRCS shop (our version of an Apple shop). Realistically I’d have liked a Macbook Pro. They’re superior in every way, and I’m really a tech spec’s kinda person – the more RAM, Ghz and GB something has the better. I’m a sucker for a high number. But also I realised that I wouldn’t have the money to buy myself a top of the range MBP (if you’re going to spend a huge amount you might as well go all out and get the top spec model… right?), and also, one of the main complaints I have with my Dell 17″ Studio laptop is that it is so heavy, after a few hours with it in a shoulder strap bag I’m in excruciating pain.
So I turned my attentions to the Macbook Air. Falling in love with it wasn’t difficult. Its a think of beauty. A physiological phenomenon. However beauty very rarely wins me over in matters of such importance.
My main issues were the spec of the machine. You only get a choice between 128GB and 256GB, and the processor speed is a poultry 1.7Ghz i5 (or a 1.8Ghz i7 if you buy the 256GB version and choose to upgrade at great expense). This thing has the spec of a smart phone! There was no way it would reliably run XCode. It would have no chance compiling Android apps… surely?
How wrong I was.
I bit the bullet and bought the machine. I had done a great lot of research into its capabilities as a development machine and had read many reviews and discussions on the internet regarding how well it worked with XCode and Eclipse, as well as the general performance of it.
I opted for the 13″ version. As a developer I’m very keen to monopolise on screen real estate. I must say that the new spaces with OSX Lion has helped with a lot of the issues with having a small screen, but I still wanted something that I would be able to use appropriately, that wouldn’t cause overcrowding, or cause IDEs to only be able to display a few lines of code at a time. The 13″ model has the screen resolution of a 15″ Macbook Pro and I must say it fits a hell of a lot into it, very concisely and with no impact on visibility at all. Text is crisp and legible, colours shine through the wafer-thin screen as vibrantly as they do on my iMac. The screen never feels small.
To say that I don’t notice any performance loss is a complete understatement. In fact in many ways (presumably thanks to the SSD) my Macbook Air is much faster than my iMac at many tasks. Startup, loading programs and all sorts takes mere seconds compared to the long waiting times (e.g. opening Photoshop and booting) I experience on my iMac. OSX Lion runs smoothly and capably without any signs of a “slow” processor, as do all the programs I’m running, XCode, Eclipse, Coda and more. Multitasking is also smooth as hell. Although I haven’t tested it to full capacity it has no problem running Chrome with large numbers of tabs, Mail, iCal, twitter, XCode, Coda, Eclipse all at the same time. I’m sure there will be times when the processing power of my iMac will prove visibly better, but for my normal day to day needs I have no complaints.
My only worry is the size of the hard drive. I’m not one to put movies onto my laptop, nor will I use it to store photos or music (I have my iMac for that) however as I opted for the 128GB model I am wary that I don’t have that much space to mess around with. Applications that I don’t use come off as soon as I realise I’m not using them, and files I don’t use are deleted. I will probably learn to relax as time goes on, but its an issue that’s always at the back of my mind.
Overall I couldn’t be happer with my purchase. I’ve got a light machine, that beautifully sleek and impossibly thin. Its portable enough to be taken anywhere, but also durable and powerful enough to be used as I would any laptop or computer. Apple have thought of everything, even allowing my iMac to “share” its CD/DVD drive wirelessly with the Air, should I need to (although I can’t remember if I have ever even used the optical drive on my iMac for “reading” – I’ve probably burnt a few discs).
I would recommend a Macbook Air to anyone who is thinking of buying a new Apple laptop. Realistically there isn’t much that this little piece of magic can’t do that a Macbook Pro can, and it can do it all looking beautiful, and not denting your wallet, or breaking your shoulder!